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Trying to muster the motivation to lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement? Think back to a particularly exhilarating run or scenic bike ride and odds are you’re more likely to hit the gym.
That’s according to the results of a recent study out of the University of Hampshire, which found that the mere act of summoning the memory of past exercise experiences -- particularly positive ones -- is enough to motivate people out the door.
For their research, psychologists asked more than 200 students to complete a questionnaire. Students who were asked to recall a positive exercise-related memory reported higher levels of subsequent activity in the following days, compared to the control group.
Interestingly, when participants were asked to summon negative exercise memories, students were also more inclined to take up a physical activity than their counterparts in the control group.
Their theory? That even negative memories can produce the desire for self-improvement and motivate people in a different way.
"These results provide the first experimental evidence that autobiographical memory activation can be an effective tool in motivating individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles,” the study reads.
The findings were published in the journal Memory.